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How to promote your business at events and exhibitions

Trade shows and exhibitions can be a great way of getting exposure for businesses and generating orders, but they can be a big investment for small businesses both in terms of time and money. Read our tips to find out how you can get the best return for your efforts.

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Choose the right event

Who are your customers? What kind of events do they go to? Finding out this information is key to targeting the right event and getting the best return on your investment.

Different types of business event can include:

  • Trade shows and exhibitions
  • Networking
  • Seminar or workshop
  • Awards

Do your research

If you can, visit the event – or a similar one by the same organiser – before you book so you can get a feel for whether it is well run, well marketed, has enough footfall, etc. Speak to exhibitors and explain that you're thinking of exhibiting; ask for their honest opinion.

Market your presence at the event

As part of the fee you pay, the organisers should do a fair amount of marketing themselves, and help to promote businesses exhibiting at the event, but you shouldn't rely on this alone. Ask them about any extra PR opportunities you may be able to get involved in, but also let your customers and contacts know that you'll be there.

Offer your services as a speaker

If the event has a speaking or seminar element, it could be a chance to show off your expertise in a certain area. Just make sure you have people to cover the stand whilst you're off giving your talk. Use this as an opportunity to let people know where you can be found at the exhibition if they'd like to follow up.

Get seen

Your space needs to stand out in a sea of other businesses, so make sure that you get a good position (near to areas where people are bound to pass, like entrances, seminar rooms and refreshments) and that your stand is branded and instantly recognisable.

Giveaways

Most people that visit exhibitions are there to gather information – and the odd freebie. You'll want to give prospective customers something to take away and remember you by, so make sure that you have lots of sales materials and some useful freebies like branded pens, calendars or bags.

Staff your stand

Don't go it alone. Make sure your stall is adequately staffed with employees who are briefed on your selling messages, and that cover is available at all times. No one wants to go to an empty stand!

But by the same token, don't overcrowd the stall or be too pushy either. Being intimidated will put prospective customers off.

Collect sales leads – and sales!

Not everyone attending an event will be there to buy, some may just be researching. But you need to be prepared for every eventuality.

Have a means of collecting details and business cards, and perhaps offer an incentive such as a competition entry in order to generate more enquiries.

If you do intend to sell, think about how you will take orders and payment on the day, and if you will fulfil orders at the same time.

Networking opportunities

As well as potential customers, exhibitions are full of other businesses that could become potential partners or referrers for you.

Follow up

After every event, make sure you follow up on any leads generated straight away and fulfil orders within the agreed time. Keep the conversation going and don't allow leads to go cold.

Want more ideas to market your small business? Check out our free marketing essentials guide.

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